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John's Journal: Farmington Softball Celebrates “Randy Day”

Team, Parents, Community Celebrate, Support Assistant Coach Randy Schmitz

Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2024 - 5:09 PM


Farmington softball players pay tribute to Randy Schmitz and his wife Nancy before Tuesday’s home game with Eagan.


Nancy and Randy Schmitz stand at home plate.

Wednesday’s South Suburban Conference softball game in Farmington was scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. The first pitch between the Tigers and Eagan Wildcats didn’t take place until 4:52, and absolutely no one cared.

That’s because the day was in honor of a former Farmington assistant coach and community fixture named Randy Schmitz. Randy is in the middle of treatments for pancreatic cancer. The game was designated as “Randy Day” and it was a big celebration.

There were purple ribbons, purple wristbands and purple t-shirts; purple is designated as the color for pancreatic cancer awareness. A large sign welcomed fans with this colorful message: “Happy Randy Day.”

Randy and his wife Nancy were the center of attention during an emotional pregame ceremony. The couple stood at home plate while players from Farmington and Lakeville (where Randy also coached) took the microphone and honored him.

Randy, who grew up in Farmington and graduated from high school in 1972, was the head boys hockey coach at Lakeville and Lakeville North for 24 years and was inducted into the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018. He also was head softball coach in Lakeville for 30 years.

Randy’s dad, Louis, was a pioneer in bringing hockey to Farmington; the local rink – Schmitz-Maki Arena -- is named after Louis and Al Maki, another hockey coaches Hall of Fame member.

Wednesday’s event almost didn’t happen because of heavy rain on Tuesday. After the storm moved out Tuesday night, a call went out to parents and others asking for help in getting the field ready. So between 9 and 10 a.m., a crew gathered in the gloaming, illuminated by vehicle headlights (on a field that doesn’t have lights). And some of the Farmington players were back at the field shortly after sunrise Wednesday for final prep work.

The field was in excellent condition for the game, although there was significant moisture down the foul lines. When Eagan left fielder Lauren Boerger came running into foul territory in pursuit of a fourth-inning fly ball, she came to a sliding stop on her left side, resulting in wetness and muddiness on her uniform. She got up laughing.

During the pregame ceremony, Farmington head coach Paul Harrington talked about growing up with Randy in Farmington, being teammates in hockey, football and baseball, and hiring him as an assistant coach a decade or so ago.

“It was a no-brainer,” he said. “There wasn’t even an interview.”

Later, Paul said, “He’s been a big part of our program for more than 10 years now. The kids just love him.”

There was a large cake with icing that said “Happy Randy Day.” Pieces were passed out and there was plenty go around. After Randy and Nancy posed for a photo with the cake, they talked about the day.

“It’s incredibly humbling,” Randy said. “Just the fact that people show up, from Lakeville players to the Farmington players to the Farmington parents. I mean, it's a pretty humbling experience.”

Nancy said the experience was “Wonderful. It’s heartwarming, it’s overwhelming. Farmington is a great community. Randy has been supported by all the people he's coached and I know they love him.”

The pregame festivities ended with the introduction of every player on each team. As the Farmington players’ names were called, they each carried a rose, hugged Randy at home plate and lined up on the third-base line.

Senior outfielder Kamryn Hughes, who first joined the Tigers varsity as a seventh-grader, said Schmitz always brings positivity to the team.

“He's always looking when someone's down or he sees someone that is struggling, he'll go to them,” she said. “He knows exactly what to say to pick them up and he'll also look at the positives of what you're doing and then try to help with things you can work on.”

Senior catcher Katie Klotz said, “Randy is just such a light. When he comes into the dugout or he shows up to a game, we all play for him. We play for each other but when we see that he's here, it just adds a bigger meaning to the game. He’s not in the dugout with us this year so it means a lot more when he's here.

“He’s always just a positive person, there's always a positive side to every situation with Randy. You could make an error but Randy always has a positive thing to say about it. He's just an all-around great guy who's just such a positive person and a great mentor.”

The game was a 7-1 win for the Tigers, who improved to 10-1 and are ranked No. 2 in the Class 4A coaches poll behind No. 1 Rosemount. After the final out and the handshake line, the Farmington team gathered on the outfield grass. In most cases the players would take a seat as the coaches talk, but the wet turf meant that everyone stood while everyone smiled.

With the field all but empty, Randy and Nancy walked out to meet with the girls. Randy offered congratulations on the nice win, to which the players responded in unison, “Thank you Randy.”

As the coach and his wife departed, Randy looked over his shoulder and said with a smile, “I’ll be back.”

Nobody has any doubts about that.

--MSHSL senior content creator John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] 

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